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I love to watch well-produced, Historical TV Drama and have looked forward to winter evenings watching one of my favourites, Downton Abbey. I enjoy the story lines, costumes and of course, the grand interiors and architecture. The TV series, by Julian Fellows, follows the Crawley family who own Downton Abbey. Lord and Lady Carnarvon are the real life owners of Highclere Castle in Berkshire, which is the setting used for the Downton Abbey series.
I recently carried out a search on the series and Highclere Castle. This country house, in the Jacobethan style (a term coined by John Betjeman in 1933 describing an architectural style with elements of both Elizabethan and Jacobian from around the 1820's) has grounds and park designed by Capability Brown. The castle is on the site of an previous house built on the foundations of the medieval palace of the Bishops of Winchester.
While researching I discovered another one of my favourite interests, Egyptology, is also connected to Highclere Castle. The 5th Earl, George Herbert, is best know as the financial backer for Howard Carter’s search for Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. After many unproductive years of searching the dig was eventually successful and at 4pm on Nov 26th 1922, Howard Carter broke through into Tutankhamun’s tomb making one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century.
Unfortunately not long after the discovery, Lord Carnarvon died in Cairo due to suffering from pneumonia, which added to existing media hype named the mummy’s curse as, by 1929, eleven people, connected to the discovery had died including two of Lord Carnarvon’s relatives.